|August/September/October 2008 Newsletter|
The Village That Was
As we drove through the muddy streets, watching the unchanging scenery of debris, scattered belongings and flowing water it was difficult to imagine this had once been the village of Stefanesti. In the span of a few hours, with no warning whatsoever, the entire village was swept asunder by the powerful waters that broke through the damn upriver and made their way mercilessly through the entire community. The handful of homes that remained standing were unlivable due to the few feet of water and mud that had not receded.
The one building that seemed to have survived virtually untouched was the local church, a church we helped build many years ago, a church located atop a hill overlooking the now destroyed village below. As we drove toward our destination, what had only a few days before been a thriving community, was now nothing more than a ghost town, the only indicators of life being a stray dog or two and one lone cow making its way through the mud.
We were coming to help, to do what little we could to alleviate some of the pain, not sure of what we would find once we got to the church. What do you bring to a community that lost everything? We brought everything we could think of, the basic necessities namely clothes, shoes, food, and water, just to get them through the first few days until we could return with more.
Throughout the drive I was struggling with myself trying to find the right words to say to these families that had just gone through an unimaginable horror, at the same time unsure of what we would find once we got to the church.
The drive was slow and grueling, having to avoid both the debris in the street, as well as make our way through the places where the road had been covered up by water altogether, but the higher we got, the better the road got, and soon enough we were parking the cars in front of the church. The pastor was waiting for us outside, and when he saw me his face stretched into a broad smile. 'I knew you would come. I knew that if I sent word, you would come." His youngest son Vasile, who is only fifteen had walked what amounts to eighteen miles until he got picked up by a car and brought into the city to tell us what had happened in the village of Stefanesti.
I was asked to come into the church before we began distributing the things we had brought, just to meet the people and if the Lord so led say a few words. When I walked into the church I saw a roomful of people, both Christian and non-Christian alike, huddled together, shell-shocked, all sharing the same expression of uncertainty and expectation.
I opened my mouth to speak, but no words would come out. I looked upon their faces again, that faraway gaze more disturbing than their utter silence, and I began to weep. I knew any words of comfort I would attempt to encourage them with would sound hollow to them, that words could not wipe away the memory of what they had gone through, and rather than have my words fall on deaf ears I decided to weep with those who weep. Sometimes all you can do is cry, and let God comfort and bind the wounds. We can try to do it ourselves, but we can never achieve the complete healing that only our heavenly Father can give.
As I began to cry, the entire room joined in and after some time one of the non-Christian ladies present got up the courage to ask, 'why would God allow something like this to happen here?'
Before I could answer, an elderly sister spoke up as she wiped the tears from her face, 'so God could show you there are still men and women in this world who care, there are still those who leave everything by the wayside, and drive to the middle of nowhere to bring people they don't really know food and clothing.'
The truth of it is, we do not know why God allows certain things to take place in this world, but what we do know beyond a shadow of doubt is that He has a plan even in the midst of disaster, His will is done even in the midst of chaos. We might not see it clearly while we are going through it, we might have questions as to why, but in the end we must trust that our heavenly Father knows best.
We passed out the food and clothing, had a prayer with the brothers and sisters there, and went on our way knowing that we had made a difference, that we had done something worthwhile and noble, we had been an extension of Christ's love that day, and those who were present had witnessed it.
A week later, as things began to settle, and the community began to see what was salvageable and what needed to be rebuilt entirely, I received a telephone call from Stefanesti informing me that three of the non-Christian families that had been in the church that day had come the next Sunday and dedicated their lives to the Lord.
All that devastation for a handful of souls one might ask? I cannot say with certainty, but I know that the Son of God hung on a cross for my soul and yours. Perhaps God values the souls of men infinitely more than men themselves do.
As I do not live in a bubble, I know times are difficult, and as the Word of God and prophecy has forewarned us, they will grow more difficult still. All I can do is thank you, and the heavenly Father for continuing to do what you are able on behalf of the helpless, knowing that it is your kindness that allows us to be a hand of help in the most desperate of situations. My love and prayers are with you all, and one day I pray to see you all at the Lord's banquet table.
Pastor Michael Boldea Sr.
I usually don't get to write the praise report since I spend most of my time in America, but this summer I got to spend a few weeks in Romania and visit some ongoing projects as well as check up on projects that have been completed by the grace of God. It has been over twenty-two years since I've started in ministry, and still not a day goes by when I am not awed and amazed by the miracle working power of our God. It's one thing to look at the pictures as I put the newsletter together, and translate the words that describe a family's predicament, and quite another to be there yourself, and see the children of which you spoke, see the homes in which they live, and the situations and difficulties that they are facing.
One of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest reason I continue to fight to keep our benevolence work alive and growing is seeing the tangible differences we make in the lives of those we help. To see the homes we've helped build, the churches we've constructed, the livestock we've bought, and the land we've purchased for families, which they've now planted and harvested.
The first visit we made, at the insistence of my father, was to the Mihalcea family. He had promised sister Mihalcea a washing machine and a goat, and after having purchased them, theirs was the first home we stopped to visit. I knew the name since it has been in the last issue of the newsletter, and when we walked into the house I asked how her doctor visit had gone, and how she was feeling. She smiled what my father later told me was her characteristic smile, and said, 'they tell me the cancer's back even after the mastectomy. God must know what He's doing because my doctors sure don't.'
We dropped off the washing machine and the goat, and as we were getting up to leave, sister Mihalcea insisted that we go out back to see her garden. Almost a year ago we rented a hectare of land for her and her family, and she wanted us to come see her tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and potatoes. I have never
seen anyone as proud of an accomplishment as she was of her garden, and after having a prayer together we moved on to the next destination.
I had only visited the home of Doru Metric once before, and that was some three years ago. Back then they had just started building their home, after my father encouraged them to tear down the old one before it fell on their heads. Two days later Doru Metric came and said he had followed my father's advice, and demolished the old ruin they were living in and had just completed clearing the land so that he could build their family's new home. As is usually the case, my father's heart is bigger than our bank account and we had to struggle to keep our promise of helping the Metric family build their home. With God's help and your benevolence we were able to help the Metric family complete their home, and now we can see on their faces how truly blessed they are. Yet another family can say whole heartedly, 'great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!'
One of the families I wanted to go visit personally, and insisted that we go as soon as possible was the Dombrovoschi family. The necessary finances had come in for them to complete their home, and since I wanted to see their situation for myself, we decided to take a trip to their village accompanied by two friends who were visiting from the States. Sometimes words can't accurately describe certain things, one simply has to see them with their own eyes. The home they are currently living in, the one that they will have to evacuate shortly isn't really a home. To use the word home is far too generous for something that isn't much more than a shack with a thatch roof. Their kitchen currently consists of an earth stove outside, and when I asked her how she cooks in the winter, Ana smiled and said, 'wearing lots and lots of clothes.' Their home is coming along at a fast pace, and with the finances we were able to give them, they should be able to move in before winter comes. The entire family asked me to pass on their prayers of blessings, and their gratitude for what you have done on their behalf.
Two days before I was supposed to fly out of Romania, my father woke me up early in the morning with a smile on his face and said, 'today we are going to go buy goats.' I didn't know why he was so excited about goats, or why the demand is so high for goats rather than cows, but it was the last day I would get to spend with him for a few months so I decided to humor him and go.
We had gotten more designated funds for goats, and since the livestock market was only open one day a week we decided to go and buy them all. It ended up being six more goats that we passed out to families, all of whom were blessed to receive them. On our way back home I asked my dad, 'why goats, why not cows?'
'See what you miss if you spend all your time in America?' He said smiling, 'goats are cheaper than cows, and are easier to feed. In fact a goat is pretty much able to feed itself, and people can still milk them. You need to get used to it, but once you do, goat milk is actually pretty good.'
Having received more information than I'd bargained for, I smiled and continued to drive toward the orphanage. It had been another full day, and we had seen the hand of God at work in people's lives once again. The work is not easy, and I can see the weariness in my father's eyes, but every time I tell him to take it easy, to relax a little, to delegate to someone younger, he simply says, 'as long as God has me here, I'm going to do what He's instructed.' You can't really argue with that kind of logic.
And so, from my heart, and the hearts of those who have been blessed through this ministry, thank you, and may our heavenly Father guide you, keep you, and protect you.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
A Growing Family
During the month of September we got no less than five new additions to the growing Hand of Help family. Among the five new children that were brought to the Hand of Help orphanage, we also have a set of twins, Adelin and Valentin Raileanu who are five years old. They come from a broken home since the father who is an alcoholic abandoned them and their mother soon after they were born. The mother tried her best to take care of her two sons, but after repeated attempts to poison them by their grandfather and countless beatings the child protective services thought it best that the children be removed from such a dangerous environment. The mother came to visit them shortly after they were brought to us and was very impressed by the conditions we offer our children.
Another addition that came soon after the Raileanu twins, were the Andries siblings who are step brothers with the Vatavu children, Iulian and Liliana. Miahela who is ten, and Mihai who is 9 were brought to hand of help after their parents were found guilty of neglect. Both parents are alcoholics, and neither has a job. The only money they received monthly was a stipend for the children, which they promptly spent on alcohol. The children lived at the mercy of the villagers, sleeping under awnings, beside fences, or wherever they could find some shelter. We are told that each time their parents encountered them in the village they were beaten mercilessly. Their sister Liliana who was once a resident of the Hand of Help orphanage tried to help them on her own, but she could not do anything to prevent the constant beatings. Finally Liliana went to the child protective services that intervened, and the children were brought at her behest, to our orphanage. Liliana told the case officer in charge of her siblings that her time at Hand of Help did much to help her grow, mature, and was very useful in the building of her character.
The last child to arrive during the month of September was Paula Banilean who is nine years old. Paula comes from another orphanage in Suceava, which housed both children with psychological problems as well as children of normal development. Due to financial distress this orphanage decided to focus only on those children with psychological problems asking the powers that be to find new homes for the children of normal development. What we know of Paula is that she has two more brothers who were also abandoned and are in the system. We have as of yet been unable to locate them and hopefully will reunite the family by bringing both her siblings to the Hand of Help orphanage. We are also hoping to find Paula's mother so that she would know her. Paula is in the third grade, a sensible and introverted child due to the many changes in her life.
Most of the children that walk through our doors are broken. They have been abused, rejected, tossed about from one shelter to another, but none are beyond repair. All it takes is time and love and lots of prayer. The changes we see in these children even in as little as a week is truly amazing and all we can hope for is that we can continue to do our job in rehabilitating, protecting and raising these children as our own.
Hand of Help
During my visit to Romania in September of this year, I got to enjoy the beautiful country and appreciate the many improvements they have made. I especially noticed the joy and peace the children had at the Hand of Help orphanage as they played in the yard. They were carefree and secure in the home God had provided for them. As part of the European Union you can see notable changes in the economy and in the infrastructure of Romania. In all of this some things remain the same. The poor are still struggling, the hungry are still looking for food and many are trying to prepare for the cold winter season. There is never an end to the number of families that need a helping hand to make it through another year. Still within all of this you can clearly see the kindness of God calling out to the people to put their trust in Him alone. This is the place that God intends to bring us all to. It's the only place that we should feel carefree and secure. We have felt in our own country the sting of uncertainty and realize how quickly things can change, but do we recognize this as the call of God to draw near to Him? The people of Romania, believers and unbelievers alike are accustomed to hardship. They know well the meaning of survival and are skilled in the task of doing so. We are different people. Hardship is intolerable. We are accustomed to abundance and convenience. However, the seasons of our country are changing quickly and it is time to prepare. Our social nets are breaking and our spiritual nets have been woven of fleshly promises and self-righteousness. Our foundations of sand are crumbling and the proving has begun. The trumpet of the watchman is blowing. It is the sound of the enemy closing in. It is the sound of war. It is the voice of God calling us to hide ourselves in Him that we may be spared the judgment of the wicked. The trials we are going through are not trials for God's entertainment but rather to prove and prepare us for that awesome day when the Groom will come for His bride. We must remember that in the beginning, sin separated man from God and it will do so in the end. We must remember that as God required of them repentance, He also requires it of us. There are no exceptions and we won't be saved on trampled grace. In Matthew 7 Jesus said that the wise man is the one who hears the words of God and does them. May God find us to be wise!
Pastor Ken Stolar
Needs Great and Small
The first need we would like to present is one that we are revisiting from some time ago. Talanca Florin is an epileptic, has been so since early childhood, and his loving mother Maria did all that was in her power to offer him a normal life, a task in which she succeeded in large part. Florin found a young lady named Mihaela that looked beyond his illness, and loved him for who his was, and they were married some years ago. Florin's mother bought them an old home in which they have lived for some three years. The home has become unlivable, and every day they spend living in it they are putting not only their lives, but also the life of their baby boy David in danger. They have decided to tear down most of the house, and live in just one room that is still structurally sound, but has no source of heat. When winter comes, they will be unable to heat their makeshift home. Our prayer is that we can help them build a wood stove in the room, as well as reinforce it to make sure that no tragedies occur. Any help would be a great blessing in helping us complete this project.
The second need we are presenting is as urgent as the first with the onset of winter quickly approaching. Serban Constantin lives with his son in law Costel, his daughter Nicolina, and his two grandchildren Florin and Gabi. It was brother Constantin that approached us, and asked us to come and see the roof on their home for ourselves. The first thing that struck all of us was the fact that although he is only fifty eight, brother Constantin looks as though he is in his seventies. Life has not been easy for him, but he is a man accustomed to hardship, by his own words able to do much of everything from carpentry, to flooring, to farming. 'You had to do it yourself when I was young, or it didn't get done', he said, 'so I learned how to do what needed doing.'
The roof has sunken in on the room the handful of Pentecostal believers in Mascateni used to gather in, a room that brother Constantin had offered his fellow believers. Throughout the house there are pots and pans everywhere, hoping to catch the raindrops when it rains, but even a rudimentary look at the roof is enough to know it needs to be fixed. The cost of the material for the roof is $2300 and brother Constantin is certain he can do the labor himself. Please pray about this need, as the cold season is nearing its genesis.
By what forecasters are claiming there will also be a great need for firewood this winter, since they are predicting a very cold and long season. If possible, and with the Lord's help we would like to purchase as much firewood as possible and distribute it as necessary to the families in need. There are countless other needs we can present to you, as it is plainly visible that times of hardship are blanketing the entire world. We will however refrain, knowing your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and knowing that, as always you will do as the Lord leads. Please keep these needs and others in your prayers, and may the heavenly Father who sees all things reward you for your faithfulness.
Hand of Help Staff
Sanctuary: A place of refuge or asylum; the state of being protected or safeguarded from danger or hardship.
Refuge: That to which one turns for help when in desperation; a source of help, relief, or comfort in times of trouble.
For those who have long chosen to dismiss the prophetic with the wave of a hand, and a roll of the eyes, these can be some unnerving and disturbing times. How could one believe the words of impending judgment, of financial collapse, of natural disasters and of unprecedented tensions, when in the physical all they could see was prosperity, smooth sailing and good times ahead?
I believe that for some time now we have entered into the realm of fulfillment when it comes to the prophetic warnings concerning this land we love called America, and those wise among us, with the spiritual foresight to see beyond today, and believe the word of God, are not taken by surprise as one improbable event after another takes place.
Even those of the house of God who have only maintained what they considered to be a relationship with the Father simply because they believed if they faked it well enough, He would bless them abundantly are stunned, speechless, seeing the pieces of the last days puzzle coming together seamlessly as it was foretold in the Word. The writing is on the wall and though many see it as Belshazzar saw it, due to their deeply held doctrine of never seeing hardship or trouble, of being caught away at the first signs of adversity, they are somehow able to justify indifference toward a loving God, and refuse to prepare themselves for what is about to unfold. 'Why should we worry about tomorrow, if we won't be here to see it?' This is the deadpan answer I have received so often when attempting to teach on end time prophecy and on end time events. 'It's all well and good brother, but at best this is an intellectual exercise. We'll all be in heaven, and have a front row seat watching the times of trouble unfold on the earth. It is interesting, you've put allot of thought into this, but in the end quite pointless.'
Times are changing, life is becoming increasingly difficult, prophecy is being fulfilled, and those who refuse to see the truth of the Gospel continue to keep one eye firmly fixed on the heavens, thinking to themselves, 'any minute now, He's got to show up in the clouds any minute now.'
This article is not for such people. Even when one can prove Biblically that we will be here far longer than they had previously thought, they still refuse to believe it, dragging out the old tired line, 'that's the way you choose to interpret it brother, I see it different.' It is not about interpreting the Word, it's about reading and receiving it as is, without allowing our personal feelings or emotions to cloud the truth of the Gospel.
Matthew 24:29-31, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then, the sign of the Son of man will appear in the heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
In the context of this passage, knowing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of mankind spoke them, I would like to broach the subject of sanctuary, or refuge during these times. As of late I have been asked by a growing number of brothers and sisters, what it is that they should do, and where it is that they should go, knowing the season that approaches. I will begin by saying that there is no easy answer. What may be God's perfect will for me, and what may be my place of safety, may not be thus for my brother or my father. We must acknowledge the fact that our faith is not collective, and thereby the place of refuge is not a singular geographical location, where all believers will congregate eventually.
For the past decade or so, men have been popping up throughout this land, claiming to know the place of refuge for all of Christendom, that one specific location wherein God's children will be protected and spared. These locations change of course, from one individual to another ranging from Belize, to Chile, to Argentina, to the Ural Mountains, and some easily swayed souls who were not grounded in the Word packed up and moved away without a second thought. If anyone reading this article today is considering packing up and moving out based on another man's advice, please, please reconsider. If God told him to move to Belize, then by all means brother, have a safe flight, and look out for the spiders. The fact that God told one individual does not mean it is a blanket statement for the entire body of Christ. When it comes to something such as this, God will speak to each of His children individually, and yes, some will be told to leave, but most will be told to stay, that they may be a testimony of God's ability to protect even in the eye of the storm.
Our place of sanctuary is not a geographical location. Our place of sanctuary is in the will of God, under the shadow of His wing. If we have not grown and matured in God, if we have not learned to trust Him implicitly in every area of our lives, then it will not matter where we go geographically speaking. When someone leaves a nation out of fear for what is coming, and not due to the fact that God told him or her to do so, they have removed themselves from under the covering of God's protection.
Amos 5:4, "For thus says the Lord of the house of Israel: 'seek Me and live."
Yes, I have been praying and petitioning God to allow me to move back to my homeland because it is the desire of my heart, yet here I will stand until He tells me to go. If He never tells me to go, then here I will be for I know that here is the only place where I will find myself in His perfect will and thereby be spared the judgments that are ready to be poured out upon the ungodly.
Psalm 33:13-21, "The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His habitation He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him because we have trusted in His holy name."
Oh that we would understand this sacred passage and know where our refuge and our sanctuary truly are. Oh that we would open our eyes to the reality that our strength, our storehouses, our plans and notions of what will keep us safe are worthless. Oh that we would see the truth of God's word and know that those who fear Him, and hope in His mercy will be delivered from death and kept alive in famine.
Dear friend, if God tells you to go, then by all means go. However, if God has not spoken, do not make the mistake of presuming to know the mind of God, do not make the mistake of walking out of His perfect will thinking that you know better than He. If I can encourage you with anything, it is with the reassurance that God is able to protect both you and your family, no matter what may come.
The judgment of God is reserved for the ungodly, just as the plagues were reserved for Egypt. In the midst of Egypt there was a land called Goshen, where the children of Israel happened to be. They had not been told to go anywhere; they were protected exactly where they were. While the plagues of God rained down upon the land of Egypt, Goshen was at peace, for the children of God dwelt there.
'But brother Mike, what about the scripture that tells us to come out of her My people?' My answer to this, is how can you go when you were not sent? It is easier to presume a physical exodus from this land, than search our hearts to see if we have come out of Babylon spiritually. There are countless souls who are still tethered spiritually to the spirit of Babylon, and God in His infinite wisdom is admonishing His people to come out of her, while they may.
Proverbs 14:26-27, "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to avoid the snares of death."
It is not in South America, it is not in the Congo, it is not in Paraguay that the children of God will have a place of refuge it is in the fear of the Lord. If we are obedient children, He will guide and protect us like a loving Father. If the fear of the Lord is ever present in our hearts, and as such we remove ourselves from the world, and we learn to hate evil, for the fear of the Lord is to hate evil, then we have strong confidence, for the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, and causes us to avoid the snares of death.
No, the judgment that is about to descend, not only upon this nation but upon the world is not intended for the children of God, for just as Israel was spared in Goshen, so too will we have a refuge, a safe haven, and a sanctuary in God. The persecution that will follow however, well that is an article for another time.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
Due to the year end processing, donations received after December 30th, 2008 will be posted and credited in January 2009. As a courtesy reminder, please try to have them to us before December 30th.
Hand of Help
Those of you who are interested in receiving an update regarding your family and/or child you sponsor, may do so by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past years we have had many difficulties with the sea freight container arriving in time for the Holiday Season. We would ask that those of you who were considering sending a gift for your child or family consider the option of designated gifting. A monetary donation given specifically for your sponsored person to purchase a need they amy have. We have staff available to take the children to purchase their needs and a little something special on your behalf. Please indicate the child's name and/or families name on your donation.
If contributions exceed the amount needed to help a family, the extra contributions for that project will be used to help a family in a similar situation. It is our commitment to you before our Lord that we will be faithful in the disbursement of all contributions that we receive.
The Hand of Help Staff.